Recruiting Event of the Season

CHAMPAIGN - Always the game within the game, this weekend sets up as a mammoth recruiting event at Illinois.

Upwards of 90 prospects are expected to be on hand for the Illinois-Penn State matchup, the Big Ten opener for both schools. Recruits are expected by the dozen, with current verbal commitments, talented juniors and even a whole mess of sophomores slated to attend.

We caught up with Fox Sports national recruiting analyst Allen Trieu to discuss the specifics involved in this weekend's recruiting extravaganza.

Why now…

It's obvious this weekend is a crucial game, considering it's Tim Beckman's first Big Ten experience and the first conference game of the season. But as Trieu points out:

"It's a good game to go to," he said. "It's the best matchup on paper for the home games Illinois has had to this point this year. It's true, the Big Ten opener is a big reason why, but you're also not competing with a Michigan-Notre Dame matchup or Michigan State-Notre Dame game elsewhere."

The headliner…

Without question, quarterback Aaron Bailey is the marquee name traveling to Champaign this weekend. The Bolingbrook High standout is the highest rated Illinois commitment in the 2013 class and, given his position, is the most anticipated recruit, too.

"It obviously will help if he's able to talk to other kids and get in their ear," Trieu said. "Even if he doesn't actively talk to others, which I don't think will be the case, but just if he's there it's a big help. Having one of the best recruits and best quarterbacks in the nation on hand, kids will know he's there, kids will recognize him. That's huge."

UPDATE - Bailey was injured Friday night and will have an MRI Saturday. He will not attend the Illinois-Penn State game. The severity of the injury, initially labeled a sprained knee, is unknown at this time.

The one to watch…

2013 DB Marcus Ball
Marcus Ball is the lone uncommitted 2013 prospect with an Illinois offer expected to attend. The Westerville, Ohio defensive back has offers from schools across the nation, including Notre Dame, Michigan State and West Virginia. He's talented, and he fits a position of need in the Illinois class.

"I think he's going to be a guy the Illinois staff tries to put the screws to," Trieu said.

Don't expect a commitment from Ball, but he's a player the staff will focus on throughout the weekend.

On the rise…

Plainwell, Mich., 2013 tight end Tyler White is visiting as well. He's a player that could play on either the offensive or defensive line or remain at tight end.

He doesn't have an offer at this time, but members of the staff watched him play live a few weeks ago. The relationship between the two parties is building, and White will be a name to track over the coming months.

Jumpstarting 2014…

Over 30 members of the 2014 class plan to be in attendance, a staggering number and proof the staff is trying to get an early start on next year's crop. At least 11 already have verbal offers from the Illini coaches.

"A lot of these kids have been to Illinois for camps and the spring game," Trieu said. "This will be they're first chance to see a game day atmosphere. It's not just in-state juniors either, but kids from Ohio, Kentucky and Missouri -- areas Illinois will be recruiting in the future. This is a good chance to build those relationships or continue to develop that with players already targeted."

These are but a few of the story lines that will be on-going this weekend. HERE's the full list of recruits planning to attend the game. Check here for updates and to get involved in the discussion.

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